Tripp v. Cranberry Pointe Rehab and Skilled Care Center (55 Mass.App.Ct. 1114)

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Tripp v. Cranberry Pointe Rehab and Skilled Care Center (55 Mass.App.Ct. 1114)

Tripp v. Cranberry Pointe Rehab and Skilled Care Center (55 Mass.App.Ct. 1114)
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Tripp, administratrix of the estate of Mary Ellis (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Cranberry Pointe Rehab and Skilled Care Center & another
Appeals Court of Massachusetts (2002)

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant nursing home and treating physician, Dr. Bickford, alleging negligence and wrongful death. The medical malpractice tribunal found that there was insufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question of liability. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court granted the motions. Plaintiff appealed.


Mary Ellis was admitted to Cranberry Pointe Rehab and Skilled Care Center on June 4, 1993, following hospitalization for a pelvic fracture. At the time she was admitted to the facility, Mary suffered from insulin dependent diabetes, mellitus, neurogenic bladder, dementia, osteoarthritis of the spine, and splendic cyst.

At some point after her admittance she was also diagnosed with organic brain syndrome, permanent urinary incontinence, and depression. On March 26, 1997, Ellis was diagnosed with advanced dementia (of the Alzheimer’s type).

Back on February 26, 1997, Ellis was treated for stomach pains and blood in her stool. No further documentation of guaiac testing occurred until June 8, 1997. After a blood test on that day showed low hemoglobin, Ellis was transferred to Cape Cod Hospital for a blood transfusion.

On June 20, 1997 Ellis underwent a colonoscopy which revealed colon cancer. Her family declined colon surgery and Ellis died on June 26, 1997. Plaintiff sued saying that defendant was negligent in not diagnosing the cancer sooner, leading to Ellis’ death.


The trial court dismissed the case ruling that the malpractice tribunal’s finding that there was insufficient evidence of causation was not in error.


Was there sufficient evidence to indicate that is was more probable than not Ellis would have lived longer or suffered less had the colon cancer been diagnosed earlier?

In order to allow a case of medical malpractice to go forward the plaintiff must prove (1) the defendants were providers of health care; (2) the defendant’ s treatment of the patient did not conform to acceptable medical standards; and (3) patient suffered harm as a result there from.

  • Plaintiff did not adequately prove the third element here

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